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Clinical Laboratory

A clinical laboratory is a laboratory where tests are done on clinical specimens in order to get information about the health of a patient as pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.

Clinical laboratories are at the forefront of the personalized medicine trend. However, they are also targets for cost-cutting measures by payers, and increased regulation by CMS and FDA, making the industry a challenging one in which to succeed.

Laboratory medicine is generally divided into two sections, each of which being subdivided into multiple units. These two sections are:

  • Anatomic pathology: Units included here are histopathology, cytopathology, and electron microscopy. Other disciplines pertaining to this section include anatomy, physiology, histology, pathology, and pathophysiology.
  • Clinical pathology, which includes:
    • Clinical Microbiology: This encompasses five different sciences. These include bacteriology, virology, parasitology, immunology, and mycology.
    • Clinical Chemistry: Units under this section include instrumental analysis of blood components, enzymology, toxicology and endocrinology.
    • Hematology: This section consists of automated and manual analysis of blood cells.
    • Genetics is also studied along with a subspecialty known as cytogenetics.
    • Reproductive biology: Semen analysis, Sperm bank and assisted reproductive technology.

Credibility of medical laboratories is paramount to the health and safety of the patients relying on the testing services provided by these labs. The international standard in use today for the accreditation of medical laboratories is ISO 15189. Under their respective approaches to laboratory licensure and accreditation, many countries have legal requirements that medical laboratories must be accredited to ISO 15189. This is not true in the United States.

In the United States, there are federal and state laws that address the licensure and accreditation of medical laboratories. Accreditation is done by the Joint Commission, College of American Pathologists, AAB (American Association of Bioanalysts), and other state and federal agencies. CLIA 88, the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, also dictate testing and personnel.

In addition, many clinical laboratories have adopted quality management programs such as Six Sigma and Lean quality to improve clinical quality, reduce turnaround time, cut costs, and boost productivity. Lean and Six Sigma are both process improvement methodologies. At a very basic level, Lean is about speed and efficiency, while Six Sigma is about precision and accuracy, leading to data-driven decisions. Lean and Six Sigma methods are finding numerous applications in anatomic pathology laboratories and pathology group practices.

CMS Issues AI Guidance for Medicare Advantage

CEO SUMMARY: With its guidance on how Medicare Advantage plans should use artificial intelligence (AI) when making treatment decisions involving individual patients, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has opened one door in the coming debate on how the federal governme…

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Lab News Briefs

New York Times Reviews DNA Testing Kits for Its Readers It’s a sign of the times when The New York Times considers it useful to conduct and publish a review of DNA ancestry testing kits to guide readers. AncestryDNA of Lehi, Utah, was picked as “the most eff…

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Year’s Top 10 Lab Stories Contain Surprises & Twists

CEO SUMMARY: With the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic now in the rearview mirror of the nation’s clinical labs and pathology groups, the important news stories of 2023 were mostly about developments where the consequences will influence laboratory operations in coming years. Artificial intelligence…

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OPKO’s BioReference, Sonic Each Release Earnings Reports

BELOW IS A SUMMARY OF RECENT FINANCIAL EARNING REPORTS for OPKO’s BioReference Laboratories and Sonic Healthcare Ltd’s lab operations in the U.S. This finishes our coverage of Q3-23 financial reporting by the larger public laboratory corporations. …

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Q3 2023 Financial Reports Show Growth at Labcorp, Quest

Blood brothers Labcorp and Quest Diagnostics showed momentum beyond COVID-19 testing and toward areas that grew base business revenue in their third quarter (Q3) 2023 financial reporting. Company leaders called attention to more partnerships and acquisitions of ho…

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Lab News Briefs: Joint Commission, Bon Secours, Anthem, Walmart

Joint Commission Looks at Cyberattacks The Joint Commission issued a Sentinel Event Alert for hospitals to address cyberattacks. The alert pr…

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UHC’s Z-Code Requirement to Commence on Aug. 1

CEO SUMMARY: In what may be an alarming development for certain clinical laboratories, as of Aug. 1, UnitedHealthcare will require Z-codes for molecular test claims filed under its co…

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Data Analytics Improves Lab Productivity, Turnaround Time

CEO SUMMARY: An increased ability to analyze internal diagnostic data helped MultiCare Health System improve laboratory test turnaround times in real time and more efficiently staff i…

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CLIA Lab Accreditors Reveal Most Frequent Deficiencies

CEO SUMMARY: CAP, The Joint Commission, COLA, and A2LA took the stage at the recent Executive War College to detail their respective lists of the 10 most often-cited standards during…

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Elizabeth Holmes Still Wants ‘To Contribute’ in Healthcare

CLINICL LABORATORY AND ANATOMIC PATHOLOGY PROFESSIONALS have another reason to shake …

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